Feed aggregator

  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.

A fidget spinner to detect urinary tract infections

ArsTechnica - Mon, 05/25/2020 - 5:33am
The diagnostic spinner in action.

The diagnostic spinner in action. (credit: Yoon-Kyoung Cho (Nature )

Urinary tract infections have been called the “canary in the coal mine” of global antibiotic resistance. With more than half of all women having a UTI in their lifetime and men increasing in susceptibility as they age, UTIs are one of the most common bacterial infections in the world.

Because it’s not always possible to check for a bacterial infection in a urine sample, patients are often given antibiotics on the basis of symptoms alone—a practice that contributes to the growing resistance of many UTIs to the most common treatments.

We may be rescued by an unexpected hero: the fidget spinner. In a paper in Nature Biomedical Engineering this week, researchers in South Korea and India describe a new test for UTIs that needs nothing more than a couple of spins, by hand, of a spinner-like device. Its results—which can be read by anyone—are ready in around an hour.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Deep Space Nine: The Trek spinoff that saved the day by staying put

ArsTechnica - Mon, 05/25/2020 - 5:00am
Chances are, you and your loved ones might get into anxious quarantine moments like this one, shared between Sisko (Avery Brooks) and Quark (Armin Shimerman) in the <em>DS9</em> season two episode "The Jem'Hadar."

Enlarge / Chances are, you and your loved ones might get into anxious quarantine moments like this one, shared between Sisko (Avery Brooks) and Quark (Armin Shimerman) in the DS9 season two episode "The Jem'Hadar." (credit: CBS / Getty Images)

As millions binge-watch Netflix and coop up indoors, virus-inspired films such as Outbreak and Contagion, as well as television shows like The CW’s Containment, have found new audiences for those looking to tackle pandemic-related anxiety. After all, research seems to show that seeking out forms of entertainment that scare us—a method of confronting fears in a safe environment—can be a coping mechanism against perceived threats.

When thinking about the above criteria, however, one not-so-scary show comes to mind as a fitting series to retread: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. That prompts a fair question: how does a '90s Star Trek spinoff about a space station in the 24th century relate to a coronavirus-driven pandemic in 2020?

Deep Space Nine turned the Star Trek paradigm upside-down when it debuted in 1993. Instead of going where no one has gone before, this show largely trapped its crew in a single place: aboard an isolated station located near the galaxy’s only stable wormhole, where any form of alien life—hopefully benign, though often scary and hostile—might suddenly appear and invade. Encountering never-before-seen threats was the norm, forcing the barebones senior staff and medical crew to solve problems they didn’t have either the skills or equipment for.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Pixel Buds 2 review: These earbuds are “much better than OK,” Google

ArsTechnica - Mon, 05/25/2020 - 4:30am
Pixel Buds 2 earbuds

Enlarge / OK Google, try again with Pixel Buds 2. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

The 2017 Pixel Buds were one of Google's worst hardware launches in the company's history. Really, these things were an utter nightmare. Their sound quality, feature set, awkward fit, and finicky case might have been tolerable as a free pair of buds included with a Google-branded phone—but not a standalone $160 purchase.

Any hardware refresh had enough work to do to catch up to 2017's standard of quality and convenience, but Google put itself into a deeper hole by launching this month's Pixel Buds 2 nearly three years later. Lucky for us, the company's new Buds, priced at $180, have turned out to be real buds. As in, buddies, homies, the kind I wanna lug around with me on a regular basis.

Google needed some good hardware news right about now, and that news comes in the form of Pixel Buds 2: a solid, competitive option for everyday earbuds in the year 2020. "Competitive" does not mean "perfect," but it does mean they're worth considering next time you think about buying earbuds.

Read 37 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Nigerian fraudsters ripping off the unemployment system

ArsTechnica - Mon, 05/25/2020 - 3:54am
A partially shredded dollar bill.

Enlarge (credit: Daniel Grizelj | Getty Images)

As millions of people around the United States scrambled in recent weeks to collect unemployment benefits and disbursements through the federal CARES Act, officials warned about the looming threat of COVID-19-related scams online. Now they're here.

Last Thursday, the Secret Service issued an alert about a massive operation to file fraudulent unemployment claims in states around the country, like Washington and Massachusetts. Officials attributed the activity to Nigerian scammers and said millions of dollars had already been stolen. New research is now shedding light on one of the actors tied to the scams—and the other pandemic hustles they have going.

The email security firm Agari today will release findings that an actor within the Nigerian cybercriminal group Scattered Canary is filing fraudulent unemployment claims and receiving benefits from multiple states, while also receiving CARES payouts from the Internal Revenue Service. So far, this has netted hundreds of thousands of dollars in scam payments. Regular unemployment, the extra $600 per week that out-of-work Americans can claim during the pandemic, plus the one-time $1,200 payment eligible adults are receiving under the CARES Act are all vulnerable targets for cybercriminals. In the midst of a pandemic and critical economic downturn, though, the theft of those benefits could have particularly dire consequences. The Secret Service warns that hundreds of millions of dollars could be lost to such scams just as states are running out of money to fund unemployment on their own.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Homecoming S2: The most fun you’ll have with an evil company this spring

ArsTechnica - Sun, 05/24/2020 - 8:50am
Screenshot from Homecoming S2 trailer

Enlarge / Name? Date of birth? Home address? "I don't know." (credit: YouTube/Amazon Prime)

Warning: This story references happenings from Homecoming S1 but tries to avoid any major spoilers for FX's Devs and the new second season of Homecoming.

Sometimes Hollywood at large seems to embrace the infamous Google strategy: make two of everything and see what sticks. Who recently asked for twin dog-as-best-friend-but-end-of-life tearjerkers? And did audiences need dual "Nikola Tesla races to make electricity" biopics starring beloved heartthrobs? (In a world where The Prestige already exists, probably not.)

This spring, streaming TV got in on this strategy, too. A pair of shows centered on secretive, shady startups—companies doing almost otherworldly things that piqued government interest but really complicated an employee's life—each arrived with star-boasting casts and filmmaking pedigrees behind the camera. Like a dutiful TV reviewer, I watched the first four episodes of both series. Despite each having oodles of style, one felt opaque and unnecessarily complex, like piecing together a puzzle without knowing what the full picture was at the start.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

When COVID-19 is a joke: Stand-up comedy versus livestreaming’s limits

ArsTechnica - Sun, 05/24/2020 - 7:00am
 Stand-up comedy versus livestreaming’s limits

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

“Was that a stinky DD coming from a big giraffe? It’s definitely not coming from our 14 different pooper dooper locations!”

Moments after stand-up comedian Meg Stalter drops this punchline, as part of a routine mocking the Disney Work Orientation process, her crowd of 11,400 viewers is silent. But she’s not bombing. Stalter is streaming her comedy set via Instagram Live, and as soon as the joke drops, her audience members begin furiously tapping their phone screens, thus sending a wave of pink, yellow, and blue diaphanous hearts up from the right-hand side of her own livestreaming interface.

“I’m about to puke this is so funny,” one fan types. It’s not the immediate feedback of a laughing crowd, but for Stalter, she’ll take it.

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ars’ summer reading guide for our very surreal summer

ArsTechnica - Sun, 05/24/2020 - 6:30am
Bookshelves upon bookshelves

Enlarge / A lot of literature in this. (credit: Liyao Xie / Getty Images)

Look, we're admittedly biased around the Ars Orbital HQ. Whether the best of times or worst of times, we routinely find comfort in a good book. COVID-19 has changed so much about our day-to-day lives, including some of our entertainment habits around things like gaming or streaming TV and film. But when it comes to precious reading time in between work and busy personal lives, we're continually drawn to the stories that grip us—as grim as some of those may be.

This year's staff summer recommendation/To Be Read list has a few newer releases, plenty of old classics, and a lot of alternate reality/sci-fi. Ars' book tastes remain nothing if not on-brand, meaning we may never get through one of these without Douglas Adams being mentioned. Here's everything, Hitchhiker's Guides and others, we've been escaping to.

Series starters

Sci-fi fans who enjoy engaging characters and story driven more by human interaction than technical wharrgarbl will enjoy John Scalzi's latest trilogy, The Interdependency. The third book just released last week, and it ties things up neatly—a first, for Scalzi. The Interdependency is an old-school galaxy-spanning empire, with a twist—habitable planets are almost impossibly difficult to find, and in an effort to curtail war, the Interdependency was designed so that no system can survive without trade with the others.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Can a trip to the iconic Monaco Grand Prix cure an F1 cynic?

ArsTechnica - Sun, 05/24/2020 - 6:00am

For the first time since 1954, the Monaco Grand Prix will not take place this year—and, for some F1 fans, that’s not entirely a bad thing. The iconic race has been maligned in recent years, and for good reason: who wants to watch modern F1 cars drive single file across narrow city streets, with virtually no chance for overtakes, as billionaires look on from enormous yachts? Critics have argued the event is boring, outdated, and downright obnoxious.

For years, I believed that, too. That is, until I actually attended the race in 2019 and witnessed the pomp and circumstance firsthand. From bombastic ceremonies to surprisingly passionate locals, the experience wound up defying my expectations, resulting in a charming weekend that could sway even the most hardened F1 cynic.

So take a trip with me to last year’s race and find out how you, too, can check this Grand Prix off your bucket list—without breaking the bank—and maybe even rekindle your love of F1 in the process.

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Gears of war: When mechanical analog computers ruled the waves

ArsTechnica - Sun, 05/24/2020 - 4:46am
The Advanced Gun System, left, is intended to take on the role of the battleship's 16-inch guns, right.  Aside from its GPS-guided shell, the digital technology of the AGS's fire control system does exactly what the USS Iowa's Rangekeeper Mark 8 did—just with fewer people and less weight.

The Advanced Gun System, left, is intended to take on the role of the battleship's 16-inch guns, right. Aside from its GPS-guided shell, the digital technology of the AGS's fire control system does exactly what the USS Iowa's Rangekeeper Mark 8 did—just with fewer people and less weight. (credit: US Navy)

Update: We are resurfacing this feature from 2014 for your reading pleasure on this holiday weekend.

The USS Zumwalt, the latest destroyer now undergoing acceptance trials, comes with a new type of naval artillery: the Advanced Gun System (AGS). The automated AGS can fire 10 rocket-assisted, precision-guided projectiles per minute at targets over 100 miles away.

Those projectiles use GPS and inertial guidance to improve the gun’s accuracy to a 50 meter (164 feet) circle of probable error—meaning that half of its GPS-guided shells will fall within that distance from the target. But take away the fancy GPS shells, and the AGS and its digital fire control system are no more accurate than mechanical analog technology that is nearly a century old.

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On the Moon, astronaut pee will be a hot commodity

ArsTechnica - Sun, 05/24/2020 - 3:56am
Artist's conception of a lunar habitat.

Enlarge / Future moon bases could be built with 3D printers that mix materials such as Moon regolith, water, and astronauts’ urine. (credit: ESA/Foster and Partners)

Ever since President Donald Trump directed NASA to get boots on the Moon by 2024, the agency and its partners have been hard at work trying to make it happen. Late last month, NASA awarded contracts to three companies to develop a crewed lunar lander, but getting to the Moon is just the start. The agency also plans to build a permanent Moon basebefore the end of the decade and use it as a stepping stone to Mars.

If astronauts are going to spend weeks at a time on the Moon, they’re going to have to figure out how to live off the land—er, regolith. It’s too expensive to ship everything from Earth, which means they’ll have to get creative with the limited resources on the lunar surface. Moon dirt is a great building material and there’s water in the form of ice at the south pole that can be turned into rocket fuel. But the hottest commodity of them all may very well turn out to be an astronaut’s own pee.

Earlier this year, a team of European researchers demonstrated that urea, the second-most common compound in human urine after water, can be mixed with Moon dirt and used for construction. The resulting material is a geopolymer, which has similar properties to concrete and could potentially be used to build landing pads, habitats, and other structures on the Moon.

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After 12 years, Clark Gregg prepares to bid farewell to Agent Coulson. Maybe.

ArsTechnica - Sat, 05/23/2020 - 11:17am
Clark Gregg never imagined that Agent Phil Coulson would become such an emotional touchstone in the MCU, and beyond, when he first signed on for the role.

Enlarge / Clark Gregg never imagined that Agent Phil Coulson would become such an emotional touchstone in the MCU, and beyond, when he first signed on for the role. (credit: ABC)

Get ready to bid farewell to another Marvel property when the seventh and final season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiers next week. Over the course of six seasons, the team has battled Hydra, hostile Inhumans, and alien species and traveled through time—sometimes aligning with the broader MCU, sometimes sticking to its own separate storylines. It's been an equally eventful journey for actor Clark Gregg, who plays team leader Agent Phil Coulson.

(Spoilers for The Avengers and prior six seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. below.)

First introduced in 2008's Iron Man, Coulson quickly became a fan favorite, appearing in Iron Man 2 (2010)  and Thor (2011), before Director Joss Whedon broke our hearts by unexpectedly killing off the character in The Avengers (2012). Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brought Coulson back from the dead to lead an elite squad of agents to take on the terrorist group Hydra, eventually incorporating the superhuman race called Inhumans into the storyline.  

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The best Memorial Day sales on headphones, smartphones, and more tech

ArsTechnica - Sat, 05/23/2020 - 11:15am
The Apple Watch Series 5.

Enlarge / The Apple Watch Series 5. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Greetings, Arsians! It’s Memorial Day weekend, so the Dealmaster is back with a special holiday edition of their usual tech deals roundup.

To be candid, Memorial Day sales aren’t typically known for providing big tech discounts, and that’s generally the case again this year. Most of the significant offers you’ll see out there apply to mattresses, home goods, and appliances instead of electronics. Per usual, those who can hold out until the holiday season will still see better prices on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

With that caveat said, we have seen a few good deals on noteworthy smartphones, headphones, video games, and other gadgets. Below are the best Memorial Day sales on electronics we could find.

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Results from the remdesivir COVID-19 trial are out, and it’s good news

ArsTechnica - Sat, 05/23/2020 - 9:00am
An ampule of remdesivir

Enlarge / Treatment with the antiviral drug remdesivir shortens the recovery time for patients with COVID-19. (credit: digicomphoto/Getty Images)

On Friday, some good news in the fight against SARS-CoV-2 was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The antiviral drug remdesivir—originally developed as a potential treatment for Ebola—was shown to shorten recovery time for patients infected with the coronavirus. In late April, early results from this phase 3 clinical trial suggested that remdesivir might be of value in treating COVID-19 patients—this new paper confirms that. It's not a cure, but the drug shortened the recovery time from an average of 15 days to 11 days.

The trial involved 1,059 COVID-19 patients across 60 different sites in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Five hundred and thirty-eight patients were treated with a 10-day course of remdesivir; the other 521 patients were given a course of placebo on the same schedule. The patients were assessed daily, both to determine the severity of their symptoms as well as any side effects that could be caused by the drug, which interferes with the the virus' ability to copy its RNA.

What was this trial looking at?

The main thing being measured in this study was how long a patient took to recover, using an eight-point clinical scale that ranged from "not hospitalized," through increasing levels of care required all the way up to "death." Secondary outcomes for the trial looked at mortality at two and four weeks after treatment began, as well as any serious side effects that occurred during the trial.

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Penguin poop creates a buttload of laughing gas, researchers find

ArsTechnica - Sat, 05/23/2020 - 7:00am
Royaume Uni, Iles de la Georgie du Sud, Plaine de Salysbury, Manchot royal (Aptenodytes patagonicus) United Kingdom, South Georgia Islands, Salysbury plains, King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus). (Photo by Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Enlarge / Royaume Uni, Iles de la Georgie du Sud, Plaine de Salysbury, Manchot royal (Aptenodytes patagonicus) United Kingdom, South Georgia Islands, Salysbury plains, King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus). (Photo by Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) (credit: Getty | Sylvain CORDIER )

We could all use a good laugh about now—and a whiff of penguin poop is certainly one way to get it.

Gobs of guano from king penguins in the sub-Antarctic give rise to comical clouds of nitrous oxide—aka laughing gas—according to a recent study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

And—as if the wobbling, forever formally attired birds weren't already amusing enough—the force of their farcical feces is enough to knock someone down with a tail feather, the researchers say.

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6 board games I’m playing during the pandemic

ArsTechnica - Sat, 05/23/2020 - 7:00am
6 board games I’m playing during the pandemic

Enlarge (credit: Nate Anderson)

Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com.

What's keeping me grounded in our current pandemic? Board games, for one. But I'm not reaching for the latest and the greatest at the moment; I've found myself reaching for shorter titles that don't melt my brain, and I've been digging deeper into my collection for those criminally underplayed treasures. In part that's because I've been playing with family rather than a gaming group, but—and perhaps you know the feeling—it's also because I can't concentrate on a two-hour strategy fest when the world feels like it's on fire.

I've enjoyed digging up some older titles during this time, and I've been reminded of how terrific some of them are. When I played Sanssouci with my 13-year old daughter, for instance, we had such a blast that we immediately played it again. And Keltis—what a gorgeous presentation, even if you do have to order it direct from Germany and download an English rules translation from BoardGameGeek.

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Making Internet service a utility—what’s the worst that could happen?

ArsTechnica - Sat, 05/23/2020 - 5:45am
The cable industry takes a subtle approach to anti-Title II advertising.

The cable industry takes a subtle approach to anti-Title II advertising. (credit: National Cable & Telecommunications Association)

Update: It's 2020, and a coronavirus pandemic has underscored how crucial broadband service is to the lives of Americans for work, entertainment, and school. Internet service is a necessity, and yet it isn't regulated as a utility the way services like water and electricity are. But back in 2014 (when this story was originally published) and 2015, there was a hot debate over whether the Federal Communications Commission should treat broadband service like a utility—or, more precisely, as a Title II common-carrier service—in order to impose net neutrality rules.

We're resurfacing this article from December 2014, which examined the cable industry's argument that utility-style regulation would hurt broadband users and broadband providers. Ultimately, the FCC did reclassify broadband to enforce net neutrality in 2015, but never imposed strict utility regulations like price caps or network unbundling. Broadband users enthusiastically supported the rules and ISPs admitted to investors later that the extra regulation didn't harm their businesses. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai deregulated the broadband industry anyway, eliminating net neutrality rules and other consumer protections such as a prohibition on hidden fees. Since Pai's decision, the top ISPs have been decreasing network investment despite operating in the mostly regulation-free environment they sought, and the FCC has relied on ISPs' voluntary promises instead of real rules to keep customers online during the pandemic.

There seems to be nothing the broadband industry fears more than Title II of the Communications Act.

Title II gives the Federal Communications Commission power to regulate telecommunications providers as utilities or "common carriers." Like landline phone providers, common carriers must offer service to the public on reasonable terms. To regulate Internet service providers (ISPs) as utilities, the FCC must reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, a move that consumer advocacy groups and even President Obama have pushed the FCC to take.

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Right-to-repair groups fire shots at medical device manufacturers

ArsTechnica - Sat, 05/23/2020 - 4:02am
Right-to-repair groups fire shots at medical device manufacturers

Enlarge (credit: Buda Mendes | Getty Images)

The website iFixit has long been known for its electronics repair kits and for its very public stance that repair manuals should be accessible to everyone. That’s one of the foundational arguments of the broader right-to-repair movement, which lobbies that regular consumers should be able to repair the products they've purchased—everything from smartphones to washing machines to farming equipment—without violating a warranty. Now, in the time of COVID-19, iFixit and a prominent consumer interest group are tackling a more immediate concern: access to repair manuals for medical devices.

The company said this week it’s releasing what it calls the “most comprehensive medical equipment service database in the world.” The collection of thousands of files is supposed to help biomedical engineering technicians—the techs who update or fix medical equipment on site at health care facilities—repair everything from imaging equipment to EKG monitors to ventilators. iFixit founder and CEO Kyle Wiens (who also contributes to WIRED's Ideas section) called it an “absolutely massive” undertaking for iFixit, a project that took more than two months to coordinate and required help from 200 volunteers.

The rollout of the iFixit database is also coming on the heels of a letter sent to state legislators by Calpirg, the California arm of the US Public Interest Research Group, with more than 300 signatures from hospital repair experts. In the letter, the group calls for loosened restrictions on repairs of medical equipment and more cooperation from makers of medical devices.

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NASA declares that SpaceX is ready to fly its first crewed mission

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/22/2020 - 1:29pm

On Thursday and Friday, senior managers from NASA, SpaceX, and the space agency's international partners held long meetings to review all of the aspects of an upcoming flight of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft.

These discussions must have gone well, because on Friday afternoon, NASA officials emerged with a clear message: "There are no significant issues," said NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk, who led the meetings behind closed doors at Kennedy Space Center. "In the end, it was a very clean review. We are ready to launch."

The flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station, is set to begin at 4:33pm ET (20:33 UTC) on Wednesday, May 27. It will be the first orbital launch of humans from the United States since July 2011, when the space shuttle made its final flight. NASA paid SpaceX to develop this transportation system and will serve as its primary customer. This commercial arrangement has saved NASA billions of dollars.

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IBM laying off thousands, seeking “flexibility” during COVID-19 crisis

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/22/2020 - 12:27pm
A man in an office walks away from his desk carrying a box of knickknacks.

Enlarge / Unlike the illustrative man in this stock photo, employees at HPE, IBM, and other firms conducting layoffs at this time may not even be able to gather their effects from offices closed due to coronavirus. (credit: Tetra Images | Daniel Grill | Getty Images)

The COVID-19 crisis is hitting almost every market sector hard, and now the dominos are starting to fall. As other small, medium, and large businesses pare back operations or shutter for good, the tech firms that rely on enterprise clients are themselves taking heavy losses and laying off personnel.

Both Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and IBM this week announced significant cost-cutting measures, including pay cuts and significant job losses.

IBM announced its layoffs late Thursday. In a statement, the company said the "highly competitive marketplace requires flexibility to constantly remix high-value skills," which in this case means deciding you no longer place a high value on the skills a significant number of employees bring to the socially distanced table.

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Hydroxychloroquine linked to increase in COVID-19 deaths, heart risks

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/22/2020 - 11:44am
A bottle and pills of Hydroxychloroquine. US President Donald Trump announced May 18 he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for almost two weeks as a preventative measure against COVID-19.

Enlarge / A bottle and pills of Hydroxychloroquine. US President Donald Trump announced May 18 he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for almost two weeks as a preventative measure against COVID-19. (credit: Getty | George Frey)

Two closely related anti-malarial drugs championed by President Donald Trump as promising treatments for COVID-19 appear to substantially increase the risks of death and heart complications in patients hospitalized from the disease.

That’s according to the largest study yet on the topic, which involved more than 96,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients on six continents. The peer-reviewed study, appearing Friday in The Lancet, was led by Mandeep Mehra, a professor of medicine at Harvard.

The drugs studied included chloroquine and its analogue hydroxychloroquine, which are used to treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as malaria. Early laboratory work suggested that they also have potent anti-viral properties. But small clinical studies looking into potential benefits for COVID-19 patients have largely provided mixed and inconclusive results to this point.

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